With the year end-looming, the silly season is almost upon us. Soon the boundaries between work and play will start to blur with the prospect of festivity. There will be long client lunches where nobody’s quite certain who’s servicing whom, and that annual ritual, the Christmas party or ‘work do’.
Amongst all the merry making, there’s always the possibility of interesting and sometimes unexpected outcomes underneath the mistletoe. Because Christmas drinks can lead to Christmas high jinx. And without meaning to come across all Bah Humbug, we suggest it’s something you plan for.
Rewarding employees for another year of hard work is essential festive fun. As leaders, you don’t want to play Scrooge – you want to have fun alongside them. But let’s not forget that getting the balance right in all things, including festive merriment, and taking responsibility for keeping everyone safe is also your job. So before you don your party hat, wrap yourself in tinsel and get all teary over Auld Lang Syne – do some planning.
YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST – THE TOP 3 RISKS AT WORKPLACE EVENTS
Here’s a Christmas list with a difference – and it’s one to take sober account of.
1 Employees being injured;
2 Sexual harassment and bullying; and
3 Inappropriate behaviour.
It’s not a list any of your employees deserve to be on. So do your part and look out for them, and your business, by being prepared. Get the music and Chrissie Kringles worked out in advance by all means, but also set the tone for everyone on behavioural expectations, accountabilities and obligations.
CHRISTMAS LIST NUMBER TWO: 6 BEST PRACTICE TIPS
Here’s how to arrange a Christmas company party or event that’s memorable for all the right reasons – not the wrong ones.
1. Send an email at least one week prior, getting a few things straight:
- The event is a ‘work function’ and conduct must be aligned with workplace policies. If you have a drug and alcohol policy, or a sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying policy, then remind your employees to review them, be familiar with them, and take them seriously.
- Set clear rules and expectations around social media;
- Make it clear that employees are individually accountable for drinking responsibly and, where appropriate, legally;
- Direct employees to make travel arrangements for getting home safely and within the limits of the law. If the function is a significant distance away from the workplace, consider arranging a courtesy coach or cab charge vouchers.
2. Send invitations with all the specifics - including the start and finish times.
Thinking an ‘after-party’ might be fun? Be aware that this still constitutes a work event and your obligations as the employer continue up until such time that all events comes to a close.
3. Ensure that the quantity of alcohol available is proportionate to the food being served.
4. Limit the possibilities for employees to consume excessive amounts of alcohol.
If there’s an “open bar” take extra precautions to ensure the responsible service of alcohol. Make your expectations clear to the bar staff. The Fair Work Commission found, “it is contradictory and self-defeating for an employer to require compliance with its usual standards of behaviour at a function but at the same time allow the unlimited service of free alcohol.”
5. Nominate someone to ‘supervise’ the function and address any escalating behaviour.
6. If complaints are received, take them seriously and deal with them promptly and thoroughly. That’s best practice.
If you’ve got best practice down pat as a manager or business owner, then it should be less than a stretch for you to get it in place as a party planner too. That way, the only headache you wake up to the following day is from the grape juice, rather than nasty spillages and catastrophes.
Your tribe look to you to keep them safe - even when events take them out of the office. So don’t let them down!